A Dozen Wonderful Yellow Roses

Do you ever notice when walking through a rose garden or nursery that there are more pink, red and white roses than any other colors? The majority of old roses fall into these color classes and have been used most often by hybridizers. There are very few naturally occurring yellow roses, and it is believed that all current yellow roses can trace their heritage to Rosa foetida – one that dates back to the 1500s. The yellow to orange coloring in roses appears to be a recessive trait that would disappear under the dominant influence of pink. In 1900, a French hybridizer introduced ‘Soleil d’Or’, a cross between a red hybrid perpetual and Rosa foetida persiana. This cross created a yellow rose that was able to survive interbreeding. Unfortunately, Rosa foetida (which by the way has a rather sickly-sweet odor) was very susceptible to black spot, and this trait has been carried forward to many modern yellow roses.

The good news is there are many wonderful yellow roses – hybrid teas, floribundas, shrubs and miniatures. Included below are a dozen roses that have an ARS rating of 8.0 or better and are classified as a light yellow, medium yellow or dark yellow color. I grow many of these and can attest to their overall great performance.

NameTypeColorARS RatingYear Introduced
R. banksiae luteaSpeciesLight yellow9.2~1824
Reve d’OrNoisetteMedium yellow9.21869
Golden WingsShrubLight yellow8.61956
MermaidHybrid bracteataLight yellow8.51918
ElinaHybrid teaLight yellow8.41984
My SunshineMiniatureMedium yellow8.41986
Gold MedalGrandifloraMedium yellow8.31982
SunspriteFloribundaDeep yellow8.31977
Graham ThomasShrubDeep yellow8.21983
Mrs Oakley FisherHybrid teaDeep yellow8.21921
Rise ‘n’ ShineMiniatureMedium yellow8.21977
CasinoLarge-flowered climberLight yellow8.11963

By Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian

Photo ‘Elina’

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